Maryland county reopens pandemic rent assistance program

Maryland’s Montgomery County reopened its pandemic rent assistance program on Wednesday for a fourth phase after a rise in community levels of COVID-19.

“I am pleased to announce the reopening of the rental relief program. We have additional funds to distribute, and we know that the need for this assistance has not gone away,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement announcing the new phase.

The county’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Program, first launched in May 2020, allocates rent assistance to those who have fallen behind on rent payments due to “financial hardship” resulting from the pandemic.

The program provides up to $12,000 for up to a year and a half for those deemed eligible for assistance.

“For households below 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI), additional financial help may be available beyond the $12,000, including up to $2,000 for utility assistance,” the program specifies.

The new phase of the rent relief program is open to new submissions from renters in Montgomery County as well as continued submissions from those who were unable to complete a submitted application by the previous deadline of June 30.

For a household to be eligible, in addition to having experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic, its members must have incomes at or below 50% of AMI, have lived in the county since at least August 2021, have an informal or formal agreement to pay rent and be behind on rental payments by at least two months as of June 30.

“The impact of this pandemic will be with us for quite some time, so I urge eligible residents who are in need to not delay and apply today,” Elrich said in his statement.

Montgomery County COVID-19 Surveillance recently reported a high severity of cases in the area after seeing a rise from 6.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents on July 5 to 13.2 on July 28.

At the time of the launch of the fourth phase, the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program had distributed $79.1 million.

The fourth phase is using funding provided by U.S. Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance to Montgomery County and the state of Maryland.